by Menachem Posner – chabad.org
One of the most misunderstood elements of Judaism is the Oral Torah, the companion to Scripture in which the terse laws of the Torah are elucidated, expounded and expanded. Talmud, Midrash and many other bodies of work all fall under this general rubric, but what is it? Is the Oral Torah a rabbinic invention, or is it given by G‑d, on par with sacred words of the Torah? And if it’s “oral,” why is it all written down?
To gain clarity on these issues, the public is invited to join a new course on Chabad.org, titled “Two Equals One.”
The course will be presented by noted educator and author Rabbi Ari Sollish, director of Intown Jewish Academy, a center of adult Jewish study in Atlanta.
During the course of four weeks (from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17), presenting one class each week, the rabbi will unpack the relevance, origins and contemporary application of the Oral Torah.
In the first lesson, viewers will learn the Divine origins of the laws and how they were carefully preserved throughout the generations, from Moses until today.
The second class takes a look into the future, projecting how the unchanging principles of the Oral Torah can be applied to modern-day dilemmas and scenarios.
The third installment will focus on the many elements of Judaism that are actually of rabbinic origin. The lesson will explore how and where the Torah authorizes the rabbis to enact laws and practices.
In the fourth and final teaching, viewers will learn about customs: how they originate, how important they are and how they become accepted as normative Judaism.
“If you’ve ever read the bible and wondered how we’ve gotten from there to here,” says Rabbi Zalman Refson, who produced the course, “then this is the course for you. We’ll ask the questions you’ve been asking yourself, as well as some others, culling answers from across the spectrum of Jewish scholarship.”
The course will be presented on four consecutive Tuesdays, beginning on Nov. 26, streaming on Chabad.org and then available for enrolled students to watch at their own pace. Each lecture will be accompanied by texts, quizzes and discussions with fellow students on Facebook, with student support at every step of the way. Although the course is offered free of charge, registration is required.